Ndumiso Ngcobo
Ndumiso Ngcobo

The anti-cactus fountain trap is here. Women rejoice

Most major corporates invest millions of rands on innovation or R&D departments.

R&D is that activity in the corporate world in which a bunch of nerdy, humourless and generally clueless sourpuss-scientist types spend their days creating products that will only become useful in the year 3245 AD and/or have no commercial value whatsoever. There’s a phrase for it — it’s called leading-edge innovation. I should know; I spent a number of years in one of these departments.

Major multinational corporates are not run by idiots — not in the classical sense of “idiot”, in any case. They wouldn’t keep these departments running if they didn’t come up with something useful at least once a decade. But what most company bosses do not know is how those once-in-a-decade innovation winners come about.

Most innovation is completely accidental. The assumption is that these brilliant minds sit there and conjure up these great ideas; in fact, they sit around pretending to be hard at work while waiting for the stumble-upon-it law (Suit) to deliver. The Suit delivers like clockwork according to an astrological cycle.

One of the coolest innovations in recent years is that whole PVR thingy. If you thought some really bright person came up with that one, you’d be wrong. I bet you the idea entered someone’s mind when they walked into their TV lounge during one of the SABC’s obligatory programming gaffes where they regale their viewers with last week’s programme right after seeing next week’s programme … you know what I mean. The Suit strikes again.

The reason I’m going on about this is because of an experience I had in a Malaysian washroom a few weeks ago. “Washroom” is Malaysian for an ablution facility, to the uninitiated. I walked into the stall whose floor was somewhat flooded, as usual, to do my business. Malaysian washroom floors tend to be flooded in general. It has to do with how they clean up afterwards. I do not think the details are necessary — just take my word for it.

To cut a long story short, the next stall was also occupied and I became the unwitting viewer of my stall neighbour’s post-relief grooming regimen due to the accidental mirror created by the gap between the floor and the prefab wall between the stalls.

I apologise for your waves of nausea. Let’s ignore the obvious mystery of the point of those freaking gaps between bathroom stalls. My point here is that when the gap-mirror patent I have registered makes me billions of rands, most people will consider me a genius of sorts when in fact it was the product of the Suit.

Oh, believe me; the gap mirror will revolutionise public bathroom hygiene maintenance. If you know your stall neighbour is watching, what are the chances that you’ll leave without flushing? How much will mall managers be willing to pay for floater-less ablution facilities?

The public does not need to thank me — the Mandla-and-Khanyi Lamborghinis for my wife and I, and the six-month vacations on my yacht will be enough reward. Would anyone like to venture a guess about who will be with us when we are living it up on the Pacific? No? Well, I’ll tell you. It will be the patent holder for the coolest device I have ever heard of, called the Shewee. It’s a portable urinating device for women. And no; I’m not making this up.

According to the Shewee website, it is “a moulded plastic funnel that provides women with a simple, private and hygienic method of urinating without removing clothes whilst standing and sitting”.

I know, I know. That was my reaction too. Just how cool is this thingamaweewee, huh? What I find incredibly fascinating about this whole thing is that Samantha Fountain, the woman (predictably) who invented the Shewee, designed it specifically for women. (Insert your own juvenile locker-room joke about her last name here. Mine is: Sam Fountain invented the fountain trap. Geddit?).

I think that by inventing it only for women, she unwittingly gave a ringing endorsement to the practice of men pissing and farting in public. In her own words: “It struck me how much easier it was for a guy to go to the toilet in a place where there were no facilities or nowhere to squat behind.” Of course I have a very strong opinion about this practice: street-whizzers should get a tax break for replenishing the soil’s nitrogen.

Miss Fountaintrap came up with her idea while studying towards her BA honours in product design at De Montfort University Leicester in the United Kingdom. She claims that the idea first came to her when she was writing her dissertation on how to improve the facilities in public toilets. This is an obvious lie.

I have sent her an email (really) and put it to her that she is doing a disservice to would-be inventors by being ingenious about her methods. I have humbly submitted to her that she was stuck in the UK’s horrendous traffic one day when she realised that she needed to go. Unlike men, the Coke Light can she was having would not have done the job without things getting messy. Fortunately for her, she was carrying a leather handbag that looked quite …water impermeable. She emptied it and — voila! — the idea for the Shewee was born.

Even though the idea for her ingenious invention was accidental, you have to give her credit for having the vision to see the commercial potential here. Women squatting in the Little Karoo and having their fleshy bits shredded to pieces by those midget cactus plants is just not on.

While her dumb classmates were fluffing around with stupid designs such as emission-free automobile engines and more efficient kidney dialysis equipment, our Sam was focusing on saving bums from cactus plants. There is no need to thank Sam, the patron saint for all upright whizzers. She has received her deserved reward. She was awarded the James Dyson Product Design Award, July 1999, for the design of the Shewee.

James Dyson is the British housewife househusband who, tired of sweeping the carpet while his wife went to work, invented the vacuum cleaner. How I wish to have been a fly on the wall when the awards judging panel was deliberating on this decision:

Judge 1: I don’t know about that Shewee. I think young Malcolm’s artificial liver is a winner.
Judge 2: Angus, you really have to get out more so you can get married. Have you ever had to remove cactus needles from a woman’s butt?
Judge 1: Point taken. Bums over livers.

If you are thinking how there should be a Hewee for men, please give yourself a slap on the back of your head. Crap idea. The Shewee is described as “seven inches long and weighing less than a mobile phone … small enough to fit into even the most crammed of handbags”. There’s more, but I stopped reading at “handbags”. The Hewee would obviously not fit into a wallet. Especially since we all know the male version would come in different sizes, with the 12-inch version being the number-one seller. Men are an ambitious bunch.

I am really confident about that gap mirror thing. It will certainly do better than my last patent, a shirt with buttons at the back. I know; it seemed like a brilliant idea at the time. Please take note of the announcements below.

[Disclaimer: The author of this blog is not in any way associated with the Shewee and will reject any accusations that he is a local sales agent for the Shewee with the contempt that they deserve.

Bulletin: I have nothing to say about the David Bullard “situation”. Please stop emailing about it. Thanks.]

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  • Bonginkosi

    I commend you, Ndums, for discovering this most useless device ever invented. Interesting how your mind works….Did you actually go onto the internet onto Google and you typed what? Heeeehee. Spear-chugger, come now. I think the miracle of nature is your brain and how it works. Heeeehee.

    The reason I’m calling this thingamawee useless is after the wee has gone down this chopped off funnel (face it; that’s what it is!!), where does it go? Down the poor woman’s leg? Into her handbag? Or is somebody about to invent the pouch? There’s a patent I’m in a rush to register!! Call it the Shewee pouch. You heard it here first.

  • http://amapencils.blogspot.com Mhlanguli Ncube

    The Coke can… stuck in traffic… the impermeable handbag… saving bums from cactus plants… I like the theories you’ve conjured up. Quite frankly I think Samantha Fountain (for her name’s sake) spent many a student night out in Leicester’s vibrant but crowded scene and just wanted to improve the efficiency of ablution usage in the night clubs, avoiding the sitting down thing. Women from time immemorial have always been envious the fact with very little guilt, men can pee just about anywhere they like really – that is, outdoors!! Maybe the Shewee is the next liberating phenomenon to uplift women from their current social wetting position? From sitting and crouching to standing upright; from being restricted to the indoors to trees, concealed entrances, alleys, telephone poles, under the sky, behind the barn, in good weather, in terrible weather. And so I join you Ngcobo and say arise women and rejoice! The world is now also your urinal!

    But I do have a burning question for the Shewee users out there. Do you drip dry?

  • http://blogs.thetimes.co.za/britten Sarah Britten

    You’ve got to admire a woman who will pee into her own handbag. Takes a big woman to do that.

  • http://blogs.thetimes.co.za/britten Sarah Britten

    On a related point, Clicks now has disposable toilet seat covers on special.

  • Themba

    I get your S(H)ewwe story.

    But I did not know you were afraid of Bullard. I did not think you would cower to him. It is strange given your edge to engage/debate until the last drop. Uthanda ukugwaza ibhece kuphela, uyabasaba ontanga bakho.

  • http://mandrake.amagama.com Mandrake

    I’m patenting the strap for the Sheeweee Bongs. Then we can have unisex toilets, the women can join us at the urinal. May we can make pressurized sheewees and allow them to participate in long-distance peeing contest at the local pub.

  • Dave Robbins

    A work colleague of mine sent me the link to your column and, oh boy, am I impressed! Great writing – I have been wheezing with suppressed laughter (open plan office), so many thanks, and keep up the good wordcraft.

    Oh, and I hope you get the job at Sunday Times that has been recently vacated by one….no, I better not start something. :)

  • Cat

    Shewees have become rather popular in the UK especially at huge music festivals like Glastonbury where you’re sandwiched in with thousands of people with no feasible way to get to the pit loo and back to your spot in the crowd where you’ve finally managed to find a gap to see the stage to relieve yourself from the day’s worth of pints in your system. The ‘circle of trust’ (your mates forming a tight circle around you with you squatting in the middle) just isn’t practical in a mosh pit.

    So three cheers for Miss Fountain for thinking outside the box.. or should that be handbag.. brave woman.

  • Maya

    just a thought shewee users with pouch strap any future accessories – shewee anti-pong spray (off to the patent office, going to be a queue at this rate) will still have to go to the toilet or a secluded spot to EMPTY THE CONTENTS. Face it women we stuck with the crouching antics, men pull out and pee shake drip dry and they are relieved. Shewee will mean (have not seen the user manual) but iam guessing it is insert something up skirt (if in trouser pants/shorts how will this work) then pull it out. I still think we will be going to secluded place and pissing in whatever position but i’d rather leave the urine there than take it with to find a suitable place to dispose it (disposable shewee’s- recycleable ones could be a stinker to carry around).

    No matter how I want to rejoice at the shewee idea. It seems cumbersome, but last alcohol related piss stop, I was left with thorns in my palms. They took a whole month to come out of flesh voluntarily. Bring on the shewee for those desperate moments!!

  • Bonginkosi



  • Bouga

    I’m trying to imagine the sequence of events that occurs during the use of this “Shewee”,and the disposing must be topsecret staff.

  • http://www.tompictures.co.za kgomotso

    I want a SHEWEE for sure!

    @Themba – What do you know that the rest of us don’t? To suggest that Silwane is afraid of David Bullard is so … well, inadequate and laughable. If Bullard had even a fraction of Silwane’s intelligence, he’d be one lucky bastard.

    I used to read both until Bullard’s thinly veiled bigotry could not pass the irony and sarcasm tests anymore, finally becoming hurtful, full frontal racial assaults.

    Free speech is a bitch ain’t it?

  • Alisdair budd

    Was this story supposed to have any meaning or were you trying experimental writing, or are you proof of Andy Warhol’s phrase “that in the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.”?

    Well, time’s up.

  • http://www.bongimbatha.blogspot.com Bongi

    I always enjoy reading your blog Ndumiso and am particularly impressed by your eloquence.This line was very funny, it left me lmso 😀

    “Women squatting in the Little Karoo and having their fleshy bits shredded to pieces by those midget cactus plants is just not on.”

  • Nna

    Did i get it wrong or did everyone else miss the point?? I thought the Shewee was open-ended so you could just aim it at something – what’s this about carrying it around and disposing of it later?

    I rather fancy this – no more underwear – just this lickle thing strapped on and the next guy who comes for a feel – aim it at his shins hee hee!!

  • Nna

    Oh ja n I reckon this is also pretty much a white thing. I’ve noticed since living in the village the little girls go anywhere just like the little boys. They don’t even pull their panties down (if they’re wearing) and nothing gets wet – even the teenage girls – it’s an art

  • Cat


    It’s number 1 on the top 5 things to pack if you’re a (female) festival goer list:

    1. Shewee
    2. Gumboots
    3. Sunglasses (more to hide bloodshot eyes than because there’s actually any sun over here)
    4. Dry shampoo (spray in, doesn’t really work but there’s always hope)
    5. Red Bull

  • Natalie

    I’m going to get one for my friend whose’s an avid cyclist. This should come in handy when doing those long cycling competitions, no more squatting on the side of the road!

  • Sthoko

    Have just googled the sheewee and found the following info:-

    How to sheewee:
    1) Undo trousers. Push underwear to one side. Place Sheewee securely against body with outlet pipe directed away from body.
    2) Aim urine to a suitable place – away from feet, into a toilet or container.
    3) When finished, pull funnel away, wipe- liquid repellent coating ensures no drips.
    4) Place reuseable Sheewee back into resealable

    …and there is more!

    Tip! Practice with Sheewee in the shower to find the best position for you.
    Sheewee is washable by hand or machine and can withstand temperatures of up to 120°C.
    On leaving the body, urine is sterile.

    …and now you know…

  • pete ess

    cat, you were right first time: thinking outside the box.

  • http://motsoka.amagama.com Sam

    Some how evolution failed the women species. Theres nothing more embarrassing than seeing an old lady with her bums in the air. Big ups to Sheewee (clever name), our mothers and sisters need it.

  • http://www.livingladolcevita.wordpress.com Dolce

    About bloody time!

  • Rosemary

    If you are a woman, try go fishing on a boat with a bunch of okes & you need to pee & there is nowhere to do it!
    (Come now – everyone has something to say about the David Bullard situation!)